CHICAGO — The hits keep coming for the Cavaliers. Following their Game 3 loss to the Bulls at the United Center (sealed on a miracle buzzer-beater from Derrick Rose), head coach David Blatt revealed yet another setback for one of his most important players.
Kyrie Irving has been playing with a sore foot apparently since Game 2 of the Cavs’ first-round sweep of the Celtics. On Friday night, he shot 3-for-13 from the field for 11 points and posted a box score line that LeBron James told him earlier this year that he could in no uncertain terms ever record: a no-assist game.
“Kyrie has been playing hurt,” Blatt said after the game. “He has been giving us all he has and will continue to do that. He had two great games and today was just a little less successful. He has a sore foot and is playing through it.”
The injury certainly didn’t hamper Irving in the first two games of the series: he scored 30 points in Game 1 and 21 points in Game 2, looking as explosive as ever driving to the basket.
“Probably in Game 2 of the Boston series,” Irving said when asked when he first suffered the injury. “I have just been trying to get treatment since then. I just have to stay ready to play. There are no excuses and I have to play through it. Coach was trying to protect me with what he said. Tonight, I am not hanging my head nor using a bad foot as an excuse.”
At the podium next to him, LeBron James deflected criticism from his teammate in no uncertain terms.
“He gave us 40 minutes on one foot,” James said. “Kyrie could have had 40 assists and if D-Rose makes that shot, we still lose. I had seven turnovers.”
Irving’s status for Sunday’s Game 4 is yet to be determined, but losing him would be a death knell for a Cavs team that’s already playing shorthanded. With Kevin Love out for the year with a separated shoulder, even more pressure has fallen on James and Irving to carry the Cavs’ shaky supporting cast. Even if Irving plays, he’s going to be limited in what he can do, and the Cavs cannot afford any more health setbacks.
“I am staying out there for my brothers,” Irving said. “I can be a decoy, set screens and do whatever I can to help us win. I just have to get treatment and come out and play.”